Dave Armstrong (Dominion) opens up a discussion on something we’re not supposed to talk about, apparently – Suicide: it’s time to talk about it.
According to some experts, publicising the issue can cause more harm than good. But can discussing a problem really make it worse?
Our annual suicide rate is nearly double the road toll, and more than 50 times the number of New Zealand soldiers killed in Afghanistan since the United States invaded.
Though I agree that glamorising suicide can have negative effects, the statistics show that our “don’t mention it” strategy isn’t working. Can you imagine a health professional saying we shouldn’t talk about Aids in the hope that the resulting silence will mean people eventually stop having unsafe sex?
When our road toll was deemed way too high, co-ordinated national action was taken. Causes were identified, government agencies took the lead, and society followed. It became unfashionable to drink and drive, and to not wear seatbelts.
Generally New Zealanders haven’t been good at discussing thinks openly, especially men, the ‘strong silent’ type. Can we and should wem be much more open about suicide?
But can we openly discuss suicide without slinging mud at each other? Surely if we can be bi-partisan about congratulating our Olympic athletes then we can be united on suicide prevention.
I look forward to a rigorous and respectful national conversation on suicide. I know people say we need “dooeys” not huis, but more talk could get the issue out into the open and positive action could result. Don’t be scared to talk about suicide – the life of someone you love may depend on it.
How many lives risked versus how many lives potentially saved by opening up this discussion?
My personal experiences
I’ve discussed with two people I’ve known very well about suicide, both had considered committing suicide. Neither committed suicide (one died of cancer, the other is still alive).
- Suicide Prevention Helpline 0508 828 865
- Youthline 0800 376 633
- Depression 0800 111 757
- Samaritans 0800 726 666